I was inspired to write this post after working with a couple clients of mine who are just starting out on their real food journey, eager and excited but also pretty new to cooking for themselves and a bit overwhelmed.
I totally get it too.
Though I love cooking now and am so incredibly grateful for all the health benefits I’ve received from doing a major diet overhaul, let’s just be real for a moment:
Eating healthy can be a pain in the ass!
It often costs more, you spend more time in the kitchen (especially if you’re not used to cooking much at all) and you often have to go out of your way to source health foods (raw milk, anyone?:)
That being said, I believe it is totally worth it as health is everything.
The benefits far outweigh the cost and I will happily pay in time and money to set the stage for good health to continue flourishing in the years to come. One of my favourite quotes is “pay the farmer now or pay the doctor later.” We get to choose but one of them usually gets our money.
I was thinking about all this earlier and decided to share my tips for making the healthy food transition easier and more doable. These are strategies that I’ve found to work really well and let me just say, I wish someone had given me this information when I was just starting out! For me it was very much a process of trial and error, a lot of experimentation and frustrated moments.
If you are just starting out on your real food journey and feel overwhelmed or confused, take heart — as someone who once did not know how to make anything other than pasta and ate almost every meal out, I’ve come a long way… and you can too, lovely! ♥
5 super cool ways to incorporate easy, healthier eating habits:
1. Cook once, eat twice
This one’s golden. When I decided to really commit and change around my diet, for a long time (much longer than I care to admit) I spent the majority of my free time in the kitchen cooking small meals for myself whenever I got hungry. I was completely unaccustomed to the art of cooking in bulk but this is vital if you’ve got a busy schedule (or if you would just like to spend more of your time living & enjoying life!)
Double (or even triple) whatever you make and you’ve got at least one more meal taken care of for the next day. I’ve gotten in the habit of using this easy time-saving strategy whenever I cook dinner, for example – I set aside a portion of whatever I’ve made for my lunch the next day, package it up so it’s ready to grab when I need it and BOOM. One less meal to have to think about. Yay!
2. Everything in balance – use the 80/20 rule
I eat well most of the time. Real, fresh, whole foods. Organic, grass-fed, nutrient-dense, wonderfully good stuff. But yes, I will also occasionally have a bag of chips. Or a package of cookies. And sometimes I like to order take-away which I’m sure is cooked in less-than-optimal oils and who knows what else. I’d say I do these things a couple times a month at the most. In the grand scheme of things that still amounts to very little junk food I’m taking in overall but it allows me to live a more balanced life, one that makes me feel happy, free, and not restricted.
The balance here is really important. I know that if I eat too many of these foods (for example, if I start ordering take-away every night of the week) my energy levels go down and I start feeling sluggish. And that interferes with me doing the things I love which is a big NO. But occasionally a bag of chips or take-away is just what my body is asking for.
I have learned to trust my body and give it what it’s asking for even if I don’t always understand the reasons why. There are really so many reasons for craving the foods we do… I could start a whole separate blog post on this!
But you know what? When I eat a bag of chips or some cookies, I really REALLY wholeheartedly enjoy them because I don’t often have them around. In fact, that’s my only requirement for eating the occasional junk food – if I get it, I have to really, fully enjoy it. If I’m just looking for something to snack on or fill my stomach with, that’s not good enough. Similarly, if I feel guilty about eating a certain food, I don’t eat it.
3. Plan ahead
If you know you’re going to be at work for 8 hours and you want to eat healthy, you’ve got to plan that out in advance. What are you going to eat for lunch/dinner this week? I never used to think about these things until I started feeling hungry and then realized I had to either spend a ton of money on expensive ‘healthier’ prepared food or else eat stuff I didn’t feel good about. Eventually I decided I had to suck it up and prep in advance so that I’d have good meals to eat later on.
Same goes with snacks. If you KNOW you are the kind of person who needs a pick-me-up snack after several hours during your workday or you KNOW you’ll be out for half the day hiking, don’t wait til you feel hungry and exhausted to think about it. You will end up grabbing sugary snacks and/or caffeine to rev up your energy most every time!
Have snacks on hand that you’ll look forward to eating.
Ask yourself in advance: what will give me energy and leave me feeling satisfied so I can continue on with my day in high spirits? (Shiny tip: think high quality carbs for energy. Sugar might give you an initial boost but will then leave you feeling depleted).
For me, good energy snacks often are a mid-day smoothie (either green or dairy-based), almond butter w/ banana or apple, crispy pumpkin seeds with dates or raisins, or coconut yoghurt just to name a few.
4. Choose healthier alternatives to indulge in
That bag of chips I mentioned earlier that I’ll occasionally buy? It’s made with avocado oil. Not the very best oil to cook chips in. But it’s a heck of a lot better than GMO-laden oils or most of the common polyunsaturated vegetable oils out there.
Those cookies I mentioned? Gluten-free, organic, and made with butter & eggs or fruit instead of artificial sweeteners & other newfangled additives.
That chocolate bar? Contains coconut oil and is sweetened with maple syrup or coconut nectar instead of white sugar.
Do you see how you can still satisfy a craving while opting for healthier overall ingredients? Some people might go the extra mile and buy/make an even better option altogether – kale chips instead of potato chips for example. I do that occasionally too… though sometimes you just want some potato chips!!
5. Enjoy your food. Really really enjoy it.
One of the big steps to healthy eating (and one often overlooked) is being more present with your food. That means sitting down to eat in a relaxed state instead of grabbing something quick on the run or eating while you work; taking time to smell the food in front of you; chewing your food slowly instead of diving right in and inhaling it; being appreciative and grateful for the meal that you have.
One of the things I love about home-cooking is you are automatically so much more grateful for the food in front of you. Think about it: YOU took the time to select those ingredients in the store or farm, YOU decided how those ingredients would be used, YOU prepared that food with energy and love, and now YOU are sitting down to eat your very own creation. It’s like eating a work of art – a healthy, beautiful, nourishing work of art. It’s deeply satisfying on multiple levels and I just LOVE that it’s one of the little unexpected benefits that doing your own healthy cooking brings.
Ok, over to you now, lovely. What are your tips for eating healthy? What works for you, what have you learned to do more of? I’d adore it if you shared with us!